SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
At this afternoon’s Priest panel at Comic-Con International, Tokyopop staffers introduced a Priest iPhone/iPad app and showed off a sneak peek of the full-color comic prequel Priest: Purgatory, available exclusively at the convention — oh, and here, where we have the cover and a three-page preview after the cut.
Priest: Purgatory will debut in comic stores on Aug. 1.
With DC Comics revealing its digital strategy yesterday, all of the major players now have some sort of digital comics plan, allowing folks who have an Apple devices (iPad, iPhone, etc.), a PlayStation Portable or even just access to the web to read at least some of their comics in a digital format.
I’ve had an iPhone for a while now, and I’ve downloaded free comic apps from distributors like comiXology, Panelfly and iVerse. I’ve used them to download free samples of comics they were offering (sampling Jersey Gods on the iPhone, for example, led to me purchasing the trades). But I never actually bought comics on it. And there’s a big difference between downloading something because it’s free, and actually becoming a paying customer and spending real money on it.
So what held me back? Part of it was because of what was available — most of the material I would have been interested in downloading I already owned in print, and I couldn’t justify buying it again. And part of it was that I just didn’t enjoy the experience of reading a comic on my iPhone as much as I did a print comic, mostly because of the size restrictions. The app developers, of course, tried to make it easy to adjust, offering zoom features and panel-to-panel scrolling, but there’s just something about not seeing the whole page of a comic at a time, versus just seeing each panel, that was the hump I couldn’t get over. I need the forest, and I need the trees.
Publishing | The big news of the day, obviously, is DC Comics’ entry into the digital-distribution arena with its comiXology-developed application for the iPad, iPhone and iPad Touch. CBR’s Kiel Phegley gets the details from Co-Publisher Jim Lee and John Rood, executive vice president of sales, marketing and business development. (ComiXology is already updating the app to fix a bug that apparently caused early iPhones and iPods to crash.)
David Brothers has early analysis, looking as day-and-date digital release for Justice League: Generation Lost, and a tiered pricing structure. Meanwhile, Matthew Maxwell writes: “… This does mean that both of the Big Two are now officially putting pinkie toes, if not entire feet into the pool. But who will jump in along with them?” We’ll round up more reactions later today. [Comic Book Resources]
Over the last couple of days BOOM! Studios has made two announcements related to digital distribution of their titles. Yesterday they launched their own iPad/iPhone application with some help from comiXology, and today they announced they plan to make their entire catalog of BOOM! Studios titles available via comiXology, iVerse, Graphic.ly and Panelfly.
I spoke with Chip Mosher, BOOM!’s director of marketing, about their digital plans, timing of releases, the customer base for their digital comics and more.
JK: Let’s talk timing, as that’s been a popular topic of late. How long will it take new BOOM! titles to reach the digital apps, compared to when books hit retail stores?
Chip: BOOM! really sees the digital comics market as its own animal. We were one of the first companies to have comics on the iPhone with iVerse back when they launched and have been watching the market place for a couple of years now. Having a consistent release schedule is important for that market segment, and what we are seeing is that the people who are reading digital comics are far and away removed from the rhythms of the direct market. A ton of what the release schedule depends on has to do with administrative things that are out of our control. Currently we have no plans on doing anything earlier than 30 days.
Alex Ross has released a free iPhone app that allows fans to browse the artist’s galleries, view video interviews, receive updates on his personal appearances and more. In short, it’s Ross’ website for iPhone owners on the go.
Yesterday, someone at Anime News Network noticed that a free iPhone/iPad app called Manga Rock was scooping bootleg manga — in this case, scans of books published in the U.S. — from a scanlation site. Yen Press has already contacted Apple to ask that the app be taken down until all Yen titles are removed, but since the developer claims not to be affiliated with the site the scans are taken from, it’s difficult to see how this could be enforced. Manga Rock was still available this morning, although apparently Apple has pulled a similar app, MangaDL, from its store; the developers profess ignorance as to why.
Here’s why that doesn’t matter: There are still plenty of multi-comic manga apps on the iTunes store, and every one of them is a mobile reader for a scanlation site. All of them. Some legitimate comics reader apps carry a smattering of manga, but so far the manga publishers themselves have stuck to the older model of publishing each chapter as a separate app. That’s an expensive and clumsy way to read comics; the paradigm has shifted, but the manga publishers haven’t responded.
The publishers should be worried about this. From the user comments on these things, users like the convenience and the features, as well as the fact that for a buck or two (or nothing, if they don’t mind ads) they can read a ton of manga for free and keep it forever. Some users may not realize what’s going on. Some of the interfaces look pretty slick, and since Apple vets all apps, it’s reasonable to assume they wouldn’t let anything as blatant as a mobile version of Onemanga.com into their store. Reasonable, but incorrect.
I’m sure that publishers can tick off a lot of reasons why a multi-title reader would be hard to do. Japanese creators are notoriously reluctant to part with digital rights, and the reader would have to include titles from many publishers, not just one. But if I were reading comments like “I’ve been looking to buy fruits basket (my favorite manga series) and now I have them for 2$ !! Hehe I’m so happy:)” I’d be looking hard for a way to make it work.
I spoke with Evan Young last year about his iPhone graphic novel The Carrier. It’s about a guy wakes up in a dark room with no idea how he got there, who he is, or why a titanium briefcase is shackled to his wrist, and it mixes traditional comic book storytelling with various real-world iPhone features, including geolocation, email and messaging.
Young sent over word this morning that The Carrier will be one of the launch applications for Apple’s new iPad this Saturday.
“The Carrier will help showcase the iPad comic book experience to a world that is extremely interested in the potential of this new device,” Yougn said in a press release. “A lot is being said about what the iPad can do for the comic book industry and publishers of other types of media. As a small-press publisher and creator, all I can say is, we’ll see. For now, let’s buckle in for the ride.”
“We’d all been waiting for Apple to announce the iPad, and once the specifics were finally known, our team began putting together our plans for the device the same day,” said iVerse Media founder and CEO Michael Murphey in a press release. “It’s been a long 60 or so days, but I’m incredibly proud of our team, and I think people are really going to love the application.”
Murphey said that they expect the iVerse Comics application to be available on the iPad when it is released this Saturday. Through the application, users can download comics from Marvel, Image, IDW, BOOM! and many other publishers.
‘If people are going to be able to access this on the iPad from day one no matter what, we really needed to make sure we put our best face forward,” Murphey said. “So we had to build a completely new application from scratch, then marry that to our existing app. The end result gives the user the best possible experience on whatever device they’re using.”
Per the press release, long time users of iVerse Comics will have the ability to download new, high resolution, iPad files of their previously purchased comics for no additional cost. They’ve also added a “zoom” feature for both the iPhone and iPad versions of the app, while the iPad version will alos include preview images. They plan to add preview images to the iPhone in the coming weeks.
Check out a video preview of the iPad app after the jump …
Devices: Manga expert Jason Thompson checks out iPhone apps for reading scanlations. Ironically, this article appears on the website of comiXology, the creators of the legit comics-reading app.
Creators: Lucy Knisley discusses both digital media and her favorite comics store at Question Riot.
Devices: Japanese artist Aya Fujii is publishing the yaoi manga Peach Boy: MOMO & MIKAN on the Kindle in English and Japanese.
Box 13 writer David Gallaher sent word over the weekend that Box 13, the digital comic he created with artist Steve Ellis, is headed to the printed page, courtesy of Red 5 Comics.
Based on a syndicated radio series, Box 13 “is the story of newspaperman-turned-mystery novelist Dan Holliday, who kind of hires himself out as a detective to get ideas for his stories,” Gallaher told me last October. “It was a high-noir, high-adventure series, but it was certainly a product of its time. Our re-imagining of the series incorporates many of the noir elements of the original serial, but with a bunch of John Frankenheimer, Patrick McGoohan, Alex Toth, and Peter O’Donnell added to the mix. There is gunplay, conspiracy, romance, psychological drama, train chases, motorcycle chases, and danger! But, at its heart, it’s a story about rediscovering your place in the world after everything in your life changes forever.”
Originally published by Comixology on their iPhone application and website, the graphic novel will cost $13 and is due in May. The complete solicitation text can be found after the jump.
Dark Horse released the first issue of their four-issue Mass Effect: Redemption comic book on iTunes today. The story occurs between the first Mass Effect game and the second one, which came out last month.
And if you download it today, it’s absolutely free. So if you’re interested in checking it out, act quickly — this link will take you directly to iTunes.
I myself have not played Mass Effect, as I don’t have an Xbox 360, but I have been very addicted to another BioWare-created game, Dragon Age, on the Playstation 3. If it’s half as much fun shooting up aliens in Mass Effect as it is fighting Darkspawn in DA, then it’s probably worth checking out as well.
Tablets | Hey, guess what? Apple’s making headlines with a new product. On the heels of yesterday’s iPad announcement, Comic Book Resources and Newsarama both reach out to members of the comics industry to get their thoughts on the new device, from traditional publishers to digital comics companies. Rich Johnston has a collection of reactions from Twitter. Meanwhile, we heard from Dark Horse directly:
“We, like all publishers, are excited about this new format, and all of the possibilities which come along with it. We have already experienced great success with our existing iTunes program, and are excited to see just how this new interface will fit into our company’s overall digital strategy,” said Neil Hankerson, executive vice president of Dark Horse Comics.
Other links of note …
Tablets | Jim Shelley talks to various digital comics folks, including Rantz Hoseley from LongBox Digital, Micah Baldwin from Graphic.ly and David Steinberger from comiXology, about the rumored Apple tablet. Check out part one, part two and part three.
Speaking of which, HarperCollins is talking to Apple about the tablet, according to the Wall Street Journal, and I thought this article on how Apple does controlled leaks was kind of interesting, in light of all the attention a device that doesn’t officially exist yet is getting.
Twitter | Congratulations to everyone behind the Twitter feed Fake AP Stylebook, who have landed a book deal with Three Rivers Press. Their line-up includes several former and current comics bloggers, including former Robot 6 contributor Lisa Fortuner, former Meanwhile… columnist Shane Bailey, retailer/blogger Mike Sterling, CBR reviewer/artist Benjamin Birdie and many more.
Dark Horse announced via press release today a few The Goon-related projects. First, The Goon is going digital, as they’ve made Chinatown and the Mystery of Mr. Wicker and The Goon #7 available on iTunes. And second, creator Eric Powell is working not only on a Goon spinoff miniseries starring The Buzzard, but also on a new Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities miniseries.
From the press release:
Now, The Goon goes digital, as both Chinatown and the Mystery of Mr. Wicker and The Goon #7, which features Hellboy, are made available on the iPhone platform. Chinatown marks Powell’s first self-contained graphic novel, which chronicles the earliest adventures of Goon and his wisecracking sidekick, Franky. After a new figure in the crime scene begins taking out the Goon’s business operations one by one, the Goon’s darkest moment comes back to haunt him, when his mind and body were left scarred . . . and his heart was left black. This new platform promises to expose an all-new readership to comics’ most beloved brute.
Not to worry, however: longtime fans will be rewarded with an all-new spinoff title based around Goon Year’s most notable character, Buzzard. Eric Powell gives one of his most beloved and mysterious characters his own highly anticipated, three-issue miniseries.
Following his brutal showdown with the loathsome Zombie Priest, Buzzard leaves his home, wandering aimlessly until he steps into the shadowy spirit realm of the forest. A dark path leads him to a small village living in fear of a bestial race of savages. More animal than man, these creatures hunt the villagers and drag them from their slumber in the depth of night.
“Buzzard has always been a personal favorite of mine from the Goon cast, and from the amount of requests I’ve gotten to give him his own series, I imagine he’s a favorite of the readers as well,” said Goon creator Eric Powell. “I’m really excited to finally be giving him his own story, along with the revival of Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities!”
For those who missed Goon Year, Dark Horse will be giving this twelve-issue story line the deluxe treatment with the release of Fancy Pants Edition Volume 3: Goon Year on July seventh. Powell’s all-new Buzzard series will arrive on shelves later this fall.
Look for news forthcoming on the return of the Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities short stories—a revival of the series from 2005 that paired Eric Powell with artist Kyle Hotz. The three-issue series will launch later this year.
Chinatown and the Mystery of Mr. Wicker is available for download today in the iTunes store. For a limited time, this heart-wrenching story is available for the sale price of 1.99. In addition, the celebrated one-shot The Goon #7 is available for free download for the next three days.
For more information, visit www.darkhorse.com/features/mobile.
Digital comics | A free digital comic starring Wallace & Gromit, the popular animated UK duo, has been downloaded more than 500,000 times since Nov. 7, leading one eBook blogger to wonder whether The W Files is the “FIRST eBook best-seller.” (If it’s free, can it still be considered a bestseller?) Released by Titan Publishing, the free iPhone app marks the 20th anniversary of Wallace & Gromit. Subsequent issues cost 99 cents each. [GalleyCat]
Digital comics | Marvel is giving away 1,000 one-year subscriptions for its Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited online service to enlisted military personnel through Jan. 7. [Air Force Times]
Publishing | Reed Stevenson looks at the growth of manga in Europe, where the market is expanding at a pace of 10 percent to 15 percent each year: “Sales of printed manga books have fallen in Japan in recent years but grown elsewhere, particularly among European young people who are consuming such titles as Naruto, Fruits Basket and Death Note with the same appetite as an earlier generation showed for The Adventures of Tin Tin and The Adventures of Asterix. [Reuters]